Archive for December, 2011

Knock Me Over With a Feather

December 30, 2011


Devastated as I was by the shock of Kim Kardashian’s wedded bliss ending after just three months, I’m not sure I can handle the completely unexpected blow of learning that Katy Perry and Russell Brand are splitting up after just over a year of marriage.  
Honestly, if over-indulged celebrities who have built careers off of their sex appeal can’t make marriage work for life, what hope do the rest of us have, anyways?

Pastor President?

December 30, 2011

A Facebook colleague shared an article that takes issue with a recent article by Bryan Fischer, a radio host for American Family Radio, who argues that the President of the United States is essentially a pastor.  Rather than address the blog my friend linked to,  read Fischer’s article.    It’s definitely worth talking about.  

Fischer uses Romans 13 to argue that leaders are basically ministers.  He pulls on the Greek to support his position, indicating that Paul utilizes the same word in Romans 13 to describe our leaders as he uses in other passages to describe deacons of the church.  With this argument in place, Fischer goes on to claim that holders of public office must be held to Biblical standards for their selection to office.  While he implies any elected official, he seems to be particularly focused on the office of President.  And, as you get towards the end of the article, it seems he’s concerned in particular about one GOP candidate for President, but does not name him.  
First of all, we need to take Romans 13 seriously (as we should all of Scripture).  If we aren’t going to treat it as the Word of God that has rule over our lives so that our opinions and ideas must be altered to conform with it wherever we seem to differ, then there’s no point in even beginning this discussion.  As is often the case, the authority of Scripture is our starting point.  Fischer is taking it seriously.  So so I.  So should you.  But that doesn’t mean we’re all going to wind up with the same conclusions.  Not because there aren’t good and proper conclusions to arrive at, but because we’re all broken and tend to see things in a fractured way, which is why we should look at things together to help make sure we’re on the right track.
Romans 13 is instructive about the nature of public office.  As I pray every Sunday in worship, the power of our elected and appointed officials derives ultimately from God.  It may be expressed through our votes, but there is no power or authority aside from God’s.  Biblical Christians confess that one day, this will be made obvious and clear to everyone.
Fischer’s next move is problematic.  He assumes that because St. Paul uses the same Greek word in Romans 13 that he does in other passages that describe a role in the Church, that this is a logical argument that an elected official is a form of church office.  I am not a Greek scholar by any means, but I’m going to argue that the word in question is used because it refers to the nature of the position, not the essence of the position.  
Diakonos is not a church term.  It is a Greek word that Paul uses in some of his letters, and which the Church has seen fit to maintain as the source for a Church position title – Deacon.  But Paul did not invent the word, nor did the Holy Spirit.  It is not essentially a Christian word.  The word literally means a servant or attendant.  It makes sense that our officials are servants of God – whether or not they know or acknowledge it – since their power comes from him.  Likewise, the position of Deacon in most Christian settings is ultimately a position of service to the Church and to the people of God.  The nature of the word diakonos is that it describes someone who serves, and the context of that service may vary.  One can be a diagnose in a secular setting or in a religious one.  In either setting, the essence of the diakonos is one of service.  The particular nature of that service may vary by context.   
Since Paul was writing about pagan Roman governing authorities, he clearly wasn’t implying that these leaders are held to the same standards as Christians.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 5 about this important distinction that routinely confuses Christians and non-Christians alike:  we don’t hold non-Christians to Christian standards, judging them for their failure to conform.  That is not our job.  Of course a non-Christian is not going to live by Christian standards!  
So, a diakonos in public office is not the same thing, essentially, as a diakonos in the Church, even though the same word in ancient Greek can be used to describe them both, since it describes the nature of the position (one of servanthood, even in a position of authority), not it’s essential function.   Clear as mud?
Secondly, Fischer confuses the issue of vocation.  He assumes that since public officials are servants of God, their vocational requirements must be the same.  He ignores the fact that their vocational duties are quite different.  He doesn’t seem to think that our President should be preaching in a Church or baptizing people.  Yet he feels that the same requirements for these tasks should be applied to the President as well.  Problematic.  
Luther’s doctrine of vocation clarifies this muddy mess.  We all serve God, but we serve God in different ways and capacities.  The pastor serves God and mankind in one way.  The President of the United States of America serves God and mankind in a distinctly different one.  Fischer seems to be confusing the idea of a ‘priesthood of all believers’, assuming that we all do essentially the same thing.  Or that we could do the same thing.  Or perhaps even that we should do the same thing.  
This is certainly not Scriptural.  Those who lead God’s people in the service of his Church have one set of vocational requirements.  These requirements are simply reflections of the same rules and norms that all Christians are called to live by.  It’s just that failure in these rules and norms are grounds for second thoughts on calling someone to the Office of Public Ministry.  All people sin, and all sin is equal, but all sin is not treated equally here on earth, and we have to distinguish at times, drawing a line between what can or can’t (or should or shouldn’t, or might or mightn’t) be ‘acceptable’ based on a person’s vocation.
It is helpful to recall that God was quite able to use pagan leaders of the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian empires to accomplish his ends (the punishment and release of his people).  How does this guide our concerns as we vote?  It makes my head hurt, frankly!
So the President of the United States is not called to the same vocational requirements as the pastor of a congregation.  They should both be fulfilling those requirements – as should we all!  But Paul lays out the requirements in 1 Timothy 3 for a church leader.  The requirements incumbent upon all human beings as creations of God are stated in Exodus 20 and throughout Scripture.  It’s not as though the pastor is called to fulfill these standards and nobody else is.  We are all called to fulfill them.  But a pastor’s vocational role may depend upon being able to do so.  Not necessarily so for other vocations.
Finally, Fischer’s argument regarding marriage as problematic.  He makes the assertion that Paul’s requirements for a minister in 1 Timothy 3 mean one person, married only and always, to one other person of the opposite sex.  And while I readily agree with the first and third conditions, the middle one – which is Fischer’s main point – is hardly a slam-dunk from the text.  But that gets us far afield, very quickly, so I’ll not pursue that further in this post.  
In summary, Fischer is mistaken on the issue of vocation and on how
to draw conclusions based on specific words.  Just as Paul was not urging the Roman Christians to revolt in favor of a Christian emperor, so we are not being enjoined by Romans 13 to only acknowledge or elect Christian rulers.  The much harder teaching going on in Romans 13 is that our obedience is not solely based on the faith of our rulers.  Just as the Roman Christians, we must be prepared to be obedient unto death, sort of like Jesus, oddly enough, if our faith clashes with our ruling authorities.  It doesn’t mean that our faith is wrong, it just means that our faith has become incredibly more difficult.
More thoughts?

Walk the Line

December 29, 2011

I honestly have no idea what to say about this.
It seems to beg common sense that wandering around severely inebriated is dangerous for your health, regardless of your mode of transit.  I kinda wonder how much money was spent to quantify this truth. 

Imagine the Possibilities

December 29, 2011

Thanks to a reader for submitting this article for my consideration (and future lunch discussions!).  I thought that it might prove helpful consideration for readers here as well.  As long-time readers will likely surmise, I respectfully and rather strenuously disagree with the sentiments expressed in the above article.  

The basic issue of this article is the author’s attempt to ignore what the religious traditions on earth actually say about themselves and about their God(s) (since I don’t believe that Muslims worship the same deity as the Judeo-Christian God).  In order for Mr. Edgmon to make his argument, he can’t pay attention to what the traditions and their various sacred texts actually say.  If he were to do that, he would arrive at a much different conclusion.  As it is, he seems to want to create a way to not explicitly discredit the three Western monotheistic traditions (though this is exactly what he is implying), while encouraging us to consider broader prospects.
Let’s just take the Jewish sacred text of the Old Testament and the Christian sacred text of the New Testament.  Both of these texts directly contradict Mr. Edgmon’s assertions:
  • That God does not show partiality – God chose Abraham rather arbitrarily and showered him with unique and special favors (Genesis 12-25).  He further creates a special bond with one particular people – the offspring of Abraham – and enters into a theocratic arrangement with them (Exodus 19-24).  There’s God’s special choosing & blessing of King David (2 Samuel 7:1-17).  All of which culminates in the Son of God taking on human flesh.  A particular human being – Jesus of Nazareth; a particular time, a particular place.  Space and time.  Very particular.  Very selective.  Note, the blessings that are promised through these very specific and partial methods are available to all who would believe.  But how God chooses to deliver those blessings are very, very particular.
  • That God would not require a particular belief for eternal reward – In the Old Testament, God makes is pretty clear – repeatedly – that He is the only true God.  Belief in other gods merits judgment.  His handling of the Egyptians in Exodus 3-14 is quite typical of this.  1 Samuel 5 is another demonstration of this.  There is only one God.  If another religion claims another god, they are incorrect – dangerously so.  John 14 in the New Testament is pretty clear as well – reconciliation with God the Father comes through God the Son.  Period.  John 3:16 is another great summary of this assertion.
You can argue that there’s no way to prove that these Scripture references are true, but you can’t pretend that they don’t exist and then create your own assumptions about what God must be like.  Mr. Edgmon would do well to better acquaint himself with what the Bible alleges to say about God (and the Book of Mormon alleges to say about its god, and what the Quran says about its god) before he conjectures in a completely different direction.
There are two conclusions you can come to if you take seriously what sacred texts actually say about their god(s) and about other religions:  
You could conclude that they are all false.  It’s obvious that they all can’t be equally true because they directly contradict one another.  You could rationally conclude however that none of them can be true.  There’s no firm basis for this, but it is a logically consistent conclusion.  If you take this stand of faith, however, then immediately you don’t need to bother with attempting to reconcile the world religions onto common ground.
Your second conclusion might be that all but one of these sacred texts is false.  If so, you have to determine why you believe one to be true and not the others.  And once you have done that – or as part of reaching that conclusion, you would also need to conform your beliefs and understandings to that tradition and sacred text, rather than arbitrarily dismissing it in favor of your own ideas.  
But you can’t do what Mr. Edgmon seems to want to do – have everyone feel good about denying their core tenets of faith as expressed in their respective sacred texts, in favor of hypothetical alternatives.  Of course, Mr. Edgmon seems to have other fish to fry.  While couching his arguments in the language of science and probability, he seems to have some very specific complaints about how the world’s sacred texts universally deal with the issue of homosexuality, either direct condemnation or complete silence on the matter.  
For any person of faith, how you treat your sacred text determines where you end up on a spectrum of faith that ranges from quite liberal to quite conservative, with plenty of margin for error and misunderstanding all along the spectrum.  Mr. Edgmon seems to wish to castigate those who know their sacred texts and take them seriously as such.  The alternative is not to take them seriously, which negates the need for him to write the article in the first place.  

Reason Enough?

December 28, 2011

An interesting couple of articles on the Scientific America blog site dealing with the same topic – the recent publication by Senator Tom Coburn of the annual Wastebook, which details what Coburn sees as wasteful government spending.  The particular issue that spurred these blog posts has to do with a National Institute of Health study on the effects of cocaine in promoting greater sexual activity.  The study utilized Japanese quail as the test subjects, and  is set to cost taxpayers about $350,000 over several years.  

The first blog accuses Coburn of attempting to rile up the peasants against the “pointy heads” for the purpose of politicking.  He blames this sort of thing on GOP leaders and seems to see no purpose for it.  It must only be a political scheme, in other words, because apparently there’s no possibility that the government might actually be wasting money.  I’d suggest reviewing Coburn’s list.  While it’s not exhaustive or terribly detailed, it is helpful to see the role that government has come to play in our culture.  A pervasive role.  
So there are apparently some rather fundamental ideological issues that set the author at odds with Coburn to begin with.  That’s good to note.  But then the author goes off on rather a red herring.  He seems to assume that Coburns main beef is with the use of Japanese quail as test subjects.  So this author goes on to explain at great length why Japanese quail are such good test subjects (you can snuggle with them before you force them to ingest cocaine and then split their brains open to study the neorological changes the drug might have instigated!).  Not surprisingly, the author has worked extensively with Japanese quail and understands their particular usefulness.
This is all well and good.  I don’t think that Coburn’s main complaint is that the study is using Japanese quail.  I think his main complaint is that the government is paying for birds to take cocaine and then have sex.  Let me correct that last statement – you and I are paying for birds to take cocaine and then have sex.  
The government is not, Constitutionally, some foreign third-party entity that makes decisions that are fundamentally separated from you and I.  Our government is an outgrowth of you and I.  The expression of what we value and prioritize.  At least it should be.  Whether it has ever truly been this is of course open to debate, and postmodernists will likely be quick to assert that such an understanding has never been the practical truth.  But it’s true that as citizens become less occupied with government, then those who are in government – and those who wish government to do very specific things – take on a disproportionate level of importance.  It can reasonably be argued that in a population of over 300 million, this is necessarily so.  Perhaps.  But it is particularly galling to be told by the recipients of my tax dollars that I am a stupid peasant who has no understanding of why the government must fund this sort of research.  
The next article goes into great detail defending the study and why it is important.  As near as I can tell, he makes his defense without ever quoting from or referring to the actual study in question.  As near as I can tell, he is providing his defense for why a study of this sort might be useful.  There’s nothing that he says or links to in his blog that actually demonstrates that his explanation of the study is actually what the study says about itself and what it hopes to accomplish.  He quotes the principal author of the study, but it is not clear if he is quoting him from another context, another document, a personal interview, or what.  There is no footnoting documentation to explain the source of the quote and it’s context, and ultimately, the quote doesn’t really say anything substantial about the study itself.
The author does a good job of building a case for why it is important to do this sort of study.  There is of course a rationale, and as he mentions, there is a rather brutal peer-review process that determines which studies get NIH funding.  Somebody – multiple somebodies – obviously thought this was important.  I have no doubt that there is information to be gained from the study, though I assume that whatever information is gained will require additional research and testing before we can reliably apply it to ourselves.  
Coburn is not ultimately, I suspect, saying that there is no reason for this study to exist.  What he is questioning is whether, given the state of our nation’s finances (which are my finances and your finances, remember), such a study – and 99 other examples of curious government-funded projects – is warranted.  There are a great many things that could be learned and studied given unlimited funding.  But funding is not unlimited.  In fact, we’re borrowing ourselves into debt at an alarming rate.  While I am not a scientist, I have an understanding of financial realities that says spending more than I earn for long periods of time will ultimately result in me not being able to spend at all.  On a more national level, if the system that supports all these projects – for better or worse – collapses, then nothing gets funded.  Lots of scientists get to go look for other jobs.  
To quote Coburn’s introduction to his report:
Ask yourself as you review each of the entries outlined in this report:  
  • Can we afford these things when we are running annual deficits in excess of $1 trillion?
  • Do these initiatives match your understanding of the role of the federal government as outlined by the Enumerated Powers of the U.S. Constitution?  
  • Do these represent national priorities or do they reflect the wasteful spending habits threatening to bankrupt the future of the American Dream?
(I bolded the one I think is a key consideration point)
Scientists are not bad people.  Science is not bad.  Whether the US Government should be funding it or not is another matter up for serious discussion.  Whether it should or not, what has to be recognized by ALL aspects of our government complex is that while there are good arguments to be made for many – perhaps all – things our government does, we simply cannot continue to do them all.  I suspect that it’s the mindset that separates government from the people it governs that allows good people to make reasonable arguments that contradict reason.  These authors feel it is very warranted for you and I to fund this sort of study.  They make a cogent argument for it.  But the fact remains that we cannot indefinitely fund good ideas with money we don’t have.  
It would have been nice to see a more nuanced understanding of this in these two blog entries, rather than the defiant insistence that any criticism or questioning of scientific studies somehow equates to storming the laboratories with pitchforks and torches.  I suspect it’s that attitude itself that engenders the desire to smash and burn, and that’s lamentable from all sides of the issue.

Hair of the Dog that Didn’t Bite You

December 28, 2011


Y’all remember the to-do about seven months ago with Harold Camping predicing the rapture, first on May 12 and then (when it didn’t occur) on October 12?  Well, for the true believers, making sure that their pets were taken care of was of some concern.  Enter Bart Centre, as reported on by NPR.  
The rapture didn’t appear to happen, Centre made some money, and some people are complaining.  Some people wanted refunds when the rapture didn’t occur, and Centre did not oblige.  
Good for him.
First off, the deal is good for another nine years or so – at only $135 for the first pet and $20 for each additional pet, his offer to care for the animals in the event of rapture is a steal.  Secondly, why would you expect someone else to return money to you for a service that you willfully engaged?  If you decide that you’re not as hungry as you thought, would you expect McDonalds to refund your money on your uneaten fries?  Insurance is a probability game – we buy insurance to protect us in a variety of other ways, and we don’t demand refunds at the end of the year because we didn’t need to go to the doctor, or replace everything in our house.  

Missing Church

December 26, 2011

I thought that this was a very good post regarding missing church on Christmas morning.

Apparently there were quite a few Christian churches that opted not to hold worship yesterday.  Mostly, I assume, these are congregations who don’t have a tradition or practice of having Christmas Day services, and it was just coincidental that this coincided with Sunday morning, when pretty much anyone who would be inclined to visit a Christian house of worship would know to go.  I can’t understand not holding worship on a Sunday morning – holiday or not.  It’s odd that so many congregations complain about a lack of visitors, and then would shut the doors the one time and day of week when people would think to actually show up.  And particularly since so many extra folks tend to go to worship on Christmas (and Easter), rather than any other given Sunday of the year.
I think that if congregations or pastors are worried that there won’t be enough people on Sunday morning, they need to really stop and think about what they’re saying.  Essentially, they’re requiring a critical mass for the Gospel.  If we have 1/3 fewer in worship, it’s just not worth sharing the Gospel with the other 2/3.  If we have half the number in attendance, it’s not worth my time putting together a message on the Gospel, or even conducting a simpler liturgy that emphasizes the Word.  I don’t get it.  My job as a pastor is to preach the Gospel.  If my congregation shrinks down to ten people (and I used to be part of a congregation that this literally happened to every summer, though I wasn’t the pastor there), it’s still my duty & privilege to share the Gospel with those who show up.  Given how many Christians don’t have the freedom to assemble for worship, I can’t imagine a reason why I wouldn’t have church on Sunday morning.
That being said, the first link above to the blog about missing church is very helpful.  I had one or two people comment after worship Sunday morning (which was smaller by quite a bit than the previous evening’s larger-than-normal attendance) that it must have been somewhat of a blow for me.  It must have been depressing, in other words, that fewer people were there Christmas morning.
But it’s not.
It would only be depressing if I put my faith and trust and confidence in numbers – as many pastors are taught to do.  If my self-esteem rises and falls with the attendance numbers each week, then a low week is going to hurt.  So I don’t link the two.  Most weeks I don’t even know how many people were in worship.  I have a general sense of whether or not we’re above or below average, but my job is not statistically based.  My job is to provide Word & Sacrament to the faithful.  Whether there are five or 500 of them is irrelevant, other than in terms of whether or not I can afford to feed my family.  
As such, I hope people know that they shouldn’t feel guilty about missing a worship service, particularly in light of the frenzy associated with Christmas.  As the referenced blog above notes, we are not legalists.  Corporate worship is not a duty per se, it’s a privilege.  There are times when we can’t make it to worship.  We should work to minimize these, because while we are not required to worship together, there are distinct benefits to ourselves and others when we do so.  As the author of the blog notes, better planning and preparation might have allowed them to go to church.  It might even have facilitated others joining them.  We don’t know if we don’t invite, and we’re only called to invite, not to coerce.
But there is an opportunity to witness through our commitment to worship.  Is worship something that we prioritize because we are blessed and strengthened through it and have the opportunity to bless and strengthen others?  Than this should show in making it a priority.  It’s part of how we can witness to friends and family if we demonstrate that it’s important to us.  Not in a holier-than-thou, self-righteous sort of way – that’s quite counter-productive!  But simply in the manner of this-is-who-we-are-and-what-we-do-and-we’d-love-you-to-join-us-but-there’s-no-obligation sort of way.  
If your pastor makes you feel guilty for missing a church service now and then, talk with him about it and ask why this is an issue.  On the flip side, Christians ought to worship regularly.  Period.  And on another flip side (what exactly am I flipping here?  How many sides does it actually have!?!?), I’m not a fan of creating additional church services willy-nilly.  I had several congregants wonder if I wanted to create a New Year’s Eve service.  I don’t.  It’s not their tradition and I don’t feel the need to create a new one for them.  Go and enjoy the evening responsibly – that’s our freedom in Christ!  
I love the traditional services of the historic church – midweek Advent & Lenten services, Christmas Eve, Good Friday, etc.  But we don’t need to create a new worship service to “Christianize” every cultural event.  I’d truly hate to think of creating a worship service to somehow sanctify Valentine’s Day, for example.  Unless it falls on a Sunday, in which case, I’ll be there to preach the Word regardless of how many people are able or willing to come and hear.  
So if you’re able, go to worship.  If this means planning, do so.  If this means restructuring your traditions as a family, consider it.  Our kids open their stocking gifts Christmas morning before worship, and then open their presents when they get home.  They’re none the worse for the ‘interruption’, and hopefully they come to understand that worship is a blessing that we don’t want to miss if we can avoid it, even if they’re a little extra fidgety thinking about the presents waiting to be opened (and many thanks to my wonderful wife for dealing with their fidgetiness in worship!)  
If you aren’t able to go, don’t feel guilty about it.  We’ll see you next week, God-willing!


December 24, 2011

Can’t.  Stop.  Listening.  To.  This.
I had been made aware of this tune years ago through a rendition of it that Sting did on a thoroughly crappy Christmas CD about 15 years ago.  Both renditions are good, but I like this one better.
Happy Christmas Eve.

That’s What I’m Talkin’ About…

December 21, 2011

…sort of.
Not being a die-hard football fan, let alone a Broncos fan, much of the hullaballoo about Tim Tebow goes right over my head.  But I get the general gist of it.  The above clip seems to offer a few helpful things to say about much of the hype regarding Tebow’s faith.  Of course, the last bit about Mormonism isn’t kosher, so to speak.  But hey, it’s been a long time since SNL has nailed much of anything, so it’s no surprise that this skit doesn’t either.  
This goes back to my previous post on vocation.  We’re blessed and equipped to do many things by the God who created us.  That doesn’t necessitate us directly crediting any person of the Trinity for specific actions on our behalf in our vocational roles.  Doing so excessively is easily a detriment more than a help the vast majority of times that I can think of or have encountered directly.
If you’re having a good season, that’s great.  I’m pretty positive Jesus isn’t favoring your time.  Reading the playbook?  Stretching?  Those are hugely important and practical factors.  Apparently.

On Vocation

December 20, 2011

Yesterday in church we talked about the topic of vocation.  Not what you do for a living, but more accurately, how you live.  The idea that rather than praying for a life of greater Christian witness, we already have the possibility to live amazing lives of faith just by being the people we have been created to be and doing the things that are already at hand to be done.  In case I doubted for some reason the importance of a proper perspective of vocation, the Barna Group has charted a trend that shows that people ages 18-29 have a hard time linking their faith to the careers they hope to pursue, which leads them to drop out of the church.  

But I don’t doubt the importance of vocation, even without the Barna Group’s affirmation on the topic.  I think it’s just as crucial a doctrine as it was 500 years ago.

At the time of the Protestant Reformation, there was this idea that the truly Christian life was devoted somehow to serving the Lord professionally – as a priest or a monk.  These were the best and highest callings, and all other duties and jobs were second-rate or worse.  The Reformers recognized that this was ridiculous, and the doctrine of vocation was a reaction against the bias by the Church, for the Church.  
A farmer serves the Lord and his neighbor by growing food.  A truck driver serves the Lord and his neighbor by driving the harvested food to a grocery store.  A stock boy serves God and his neighbor by stocking the produce.  The cashier serves the Lord and her neighbor by totaling up people’s groceries and taking their payment.  A mother serves the Lord and her neighbor by cooking up the food for her family.  A father serves the Lord and his neighbor by cleaning up the dishes after dinner.  And so on and so on and so on.  God serves his creation through a myriad of human vocations, so that we all become masks for God’s sustaining work.  
These days I don’t think there’s much of a popular opinion that says that professional church work is somehow a higher calling than any other.  But that doesn’t mean that people don’t have a hierarchical view of things instilled in them.  Thanks to a bevy of Christian inspirational speakers and writers and even pastors, people are more and more made to feel as though their lives of faith are lacking, but that they can turbo-charge their lives if they will just pray/serve/study/tithe more.  If you just buy this book, follow this program, attend this seminar – your life can be a vibrant, joy-filled and exciting adventure for the rest of your life!  
The unstated flip-side of this is that if your life isn’t a vibrant, joy-filled and exciting adventure every waking moment, perhaps you’re not a good enough Christian.  Perhaps you haven’t really given your heart to Jesus.  It can’t be God’s fault after all, so it must be yours.  Every year, millions (or probably billions) of dollars are spent on books and seminars and programs that promise people their lives can be massively different.  It’s a fantastic market because when people realize that one program or book or seminar wasn’t effective, they’re ready to try again.  And because there are often mountain-top experiences where a spiritual or emotional high is experienced for a brief period of time, people seem to assume that the mountaintop is where they are supposed to be living, and that the more typical experience of a plain or a valley is somehow the sign of a defective faith life.
Teaching vocation is important.  Not as a means to an end, but because it’s true.  It’s sad that Christians more and more see their faith as disconnected from the rest of their life.  Every Christian ought to be able to recognize that they are serving their God and their neighbor when they faithfully carry out the vocations of spouse, parent, sibling, child, employer, employee, congregant, neighbor, etc. that we all wear.  It infuses those tasks in our life that are not particularly glamorous or even enjoyable with a deeper meaning.  It heightens the joy we experience at other times as we fulfill our vocational calling.  It’s deceptively simple – much simpler on the surface than the constant drum-beat that many churches and speakers pound out, insisting that people must break through to a more energized life of faith by their own strength and will.  And yet because it doesn’t emphasize our own works and efforts (at least not in the same way) it’s very challenging for many people.  
So, fulfill your vocations today, whatever those might be!